Centrifuge (Encyclopedia of Science)
A centrifuge is a device that uses centrifugal force to separate two or more substances of different density or mass from each other. Centrifugal force is the tendency of an object traveling around a central point to fly away from that point in a straight line. A centrifuge is able to separate different substances from each other because materials with heavier masses move faster and farther away from the central point than materials with lighter masses. The first successful centrifuge was invented in 1883 by Swiss engineer Carl de Laval.
A centrifuge consists of a fixed base and center stem to which arms or holders containing hollow tubes are attached. When the device is turned on, the arms spin around the center stem at a high rate of speed. In the process, the heavier material is thrown outward within the tube while the lighter material stays near the center of the device.
Applications of the centrifuge
Large-scale centrifugation has found a great variety of commercial and industrial uses. For example, the separation of cream from whole milk has been accomplished by this process for more than a century. Today, the food, chemical, and mineral industries use centrifuges to separate water from all sorts of solids. Medical laboratories use centrifuges to separate plasma from heavier blood cells.
Modern centrifuges can even...
(The entire section is 338 words.)
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